6 ways to improve your professional relationship with your manager
However, relationships with management and bosses are one of the primary reasons for workplace unhappiness. As with many workplace issues, addressing this problem head on is the best, though admittedly often uncomfortable, way of making the situation better.
So, how can you employ different strategies to communicate effectively and address management-style issues with your manager, team lead or direct report?
1. Understand your manager’s style
Taking the time and making the effort to understand your manager’s style is not about putting all the responsibility for improving the professional relationship on your shoulders. However, it is a critical step in working out how to deal effectively with them moving forwards.
There can be a wide range of management styles and personalities on display in the workplace. Make a note of whether your boss is a micromanager or a hands-off kind of leader. How do they work and communicate and how does that affect you and your ability to thrive professionally?
2. Evaluate your role
Whether or not your manager’s leadership style is fair or effective, you most certainly have a role in any workplace dynamic. Try evaluating your role in the working relationship with a fair but critical eye on your own behaviour. Are there indications your performance could be contributing to the problem?
This can be a confronting and difficult process to work through, so be open to seeking guidance from reliable and objective sources such as mentors, trusted colleagues, or past co-workers. Whilst doing so, however, refrain from gossiping unprofessionally or talking negatively about your manager. Not only does it undermine your credibility in getting a fair assessment of the situation but it also reflects poorly on you.
3. Acknowledge different working styles
Different working styles between managers and team members, as well as between colleagues, are a common cause of angst and frustration in workplaces.
Different communication styles can lead to misunderstandings and confusion which can sometimes result in under-performance, mis-aligned briefs and missed deadlines. Different work habits can create feelings of one member of the team ‘not pulling their weight’ or, on the other end of the spectrum, micro-managing.
Recognise that you and your manager may have different working styles. Then you can work on some strategies to help bridge the communication gap and ensure your different but complementary styles can work collaboratively and productively.
How? Here are some suggestions:
If not already in place, schedule regular one-on-one meetings to discuss work progress, challenges, and goals to ensure you’re on the same page.
Clarify expectations of one another
Clearly articulate your understanding of task briefs, deadlines, and expectations to ensure that you are working towards the same objectives.
Adapt your communication style
Adjust your communication style to match your boss’s preferences and be willing to be flexible.
When faced with challenges, proactively present potential solutions along with the problem.
Seek regular feedback
Actively ask for feedback on your work and your communication style to demonstrate your willingness to improve, deliver results and work collaboratively.
4. Understand your communication preferences
Take a closer look at your own preferences in work styles and how you like to communicate. What sort of management style best suits your needs to perform to your highest potential?
Bearing in mind that not all preferences are practical in every workplace, and you will need to display flexibility and adaptability. Being able to identify and articulate what does and doesn’t work for you is an important step in aligning your manager’s style to bring out the best in you as a team member.
5. Be honest and open
Being honest and open is not just an ethical imperative in a workplace, it is also the only way to improve a workplace relationship sustainably. Use clear language to express your concerns and be honest about what works and doesn’t work for you. This will help when conversations such as compensation arise.
Remember, whilst being candid and direct you should always keep your discussions constructive and professional and avoid confrontational language. The purpose of being honest and open is to ensure that you and your manager can productively find a solution that works in a mutually beneficial way.
6. Be open to different solutions
Conversations with your manager about their management style and your work style is important, but make sure you come to the table with more than just the problem.
Use the steps outlined above to consider different solutions or adaptations that could be made. Frame the conversation in a way that it is clear you are collaborating to find a solution to the problem at hand and offer tips and assistance wherever you can.
On the other hand, remember to be open to your manager’s feedback as well. Consider their point of view, listen actively and attentively to their suggestions and see how you can fit your proposed solution and theirs into a harmonious and effective path forward.
Exceptional Perth recruitment services
The Scotford Fennessy team has been providing recruitment services to both employers and job seekers across WA for more than two decades. In fact, we were a finalist at the SEEK Annual Recruitment Awards (SARAs) as well! So, we know a thing or two about helping our clients find the right manager or worker, respectively, that suits their style.
There are often opportunities to improve your relationship with your manager and address any management style issues as proactively and in as timely a manner as possible.
If you’d like to discuss any of the steps outlined above in greater detail or would just like to find out more about our recruitment services, give the Scotford Fennessy team a call today.
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